In my heart of hearts, whatever the hell that means, I know that I am an outlaw.
Queers are always eager to write and talk about themselves whenever the opportunity arises, and I’m no exception. Also, queers love themes. Theme nights, theme songs, and especially, themed readings. So when Kelli Dunham, esteemed comic and host of NYC’s reading series Queer Memoir, announced that the theme of her next event was “Inlaws and Outlaws,” I immediately signed up to read something. Quickly thereafter, I realized that I don’t have any inlaws, and that I didn’t know what an outlaw was. I was fucked. And much to my dismay, not literally. An outlaw made me think of some guy with a handlebar mustache who swaggers into a bar, making white bosomed women in corsets drop their drinks and cry for the county sheriff. It also made me think of Babeland’s notorious VixSkin “Outlaw,” because it’s the biggest one. If I wanted to learn what outlaws were about, I needed to read some stuff. Through some haphazard googling, I learned that Robin Hood is frequently cited as the most famous outlaw. I couldn’t really remember if Robin Hood was the same thing as Waterworld, or if he was Braveheart, or if he danced with wolves, so I googled “Robin Hood” and learned that all of the above is true. Wisegeek.com also taught me a thing or two, all of which lead me to the following realization: I am outlaw-idenitified.
Now, I may not be a cartoon Disney fox in a cropped green shirt, or wield a bow and arrow as I dash around the woods in a small, fitted jacket, and obviously I’m not that guy who saunters into bars with his jeans and his big hat, but I am someone who doesn’t really “do” rules, and who sometimes, in a way, steals from the rich to give to the poor, and for all these reasons and more, must live on the periphery of most cultures that are counter enough to begin with. In other words, I’m “other.”
An outlaw is defined as someone who is unconventional and rebellious, unmanageable, or running from the law. Admitting to identifying with most if not all of those qualifiers is kind of embarrassing, because it’s on par with saying “Hey guys, I’m wild. No one can control me!”, a sentiment that’s the equivalent of all Aerosmith videos with Alicia Silverstone in them, and I’d like to think I’m a little more current. So what if I learned what a meme was two weeks ago and I still don’t understand what that emoticon means where it’s a colon followed by an uppercase D? Sometimes I wear leather and I’m usually defiant, like James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause- I’ve never seen that movie, it just seems like a good one to reference because of the title. And it is for these reasons, among others, that I identify as an outlaw. In my heart of hearts, whatever the hell that means, I know that I am an outlaw. I am here to present my case, in spite of the fact that most outlaws don’t present shit to anyone ever anywhere, and don’t feel the need to prove themselves to anybody. Perhaps I am anomalous.
My first serious boyfriend was a gay Ecuadorian man who ate a roasted guinea pig on a stick in front of my face. It was like cotton candy, except not, because it was a roasted guinea pig. I watched him eat it on the street in downtown Quito as I quietly got mugged by a set of elderly Andean twins. I discovered the slit at the bottom of my empty bag later that day. Because there was no appropriate reaction to that type of unfortunate discovery, my boyfriend and I opted to have sex together with our eyes closed. I pretended that his penis was a vagina, and he pretended that my vagina was a penis. Everyone wins.
People who knew us would always say “Katie, he’s gay,” like kind of accusatorily, and I would always say, “Who isn’t?” as I nonchalantly flipped my hair and looked off into the distance. I could have gotten all defensive about it, but instead was like, “whatever dudes!” which is the kind of thing an outlaw would do. Also, I could have averted my eyes when he ate the guinea pig, but instead I watched him do it.
Outlaws move at the drop of a dime. Perhaps my greatest love to date was a part-time tattoo artist and a full-time compulsive gambler who was shaped like a pierogi. When she suggested we move to Vegas, I said yes because I was obsessed with her didn’t want to lose her. We quit our jobs and we left. We lived in an apartment in a housing complex two miles off the strip. Everything in the kitchen was linoleum and the emptiest shade of blue. In the morning I’d find her face down on our crumb and trash-laced shag rug, sweating, drooling and shirtless, the neck of an empty Black Velvet Whiskey bottle resting in her upturned hand, big cashless pants and dirty sneakers still on. Sometimes I’d cry, and the tears would smear my mascara all over my eyes and cheeks, and then I’d go into the bathroom so I could watch myself cry some more. Life felt like a bad country music song. Outlaws live lives straight out of bad country music songs.
When we left New York, our friends back home said things like, ‘Damn, you just left, like out of nowhere!” and I’d sigh and say something condescending like, “Some of us like to live hard,” as if this kind of spontaneity was in my BLOOD, and when I needed to go it was time to GO. Outlaws just up and GO. That’s what I did and that’s what they DO. Outlaws don’t cry, though. Or maybe they do, but they don’t go around bragging about it like I’m doing right now.
I dated a guy for an entire year so he would let me pick at his back after we had sex. If that doesn’t scream lawless bandit, I don’t know what does. When not counting calories, doing Bikram yoga or trolling Grindr on the DL, he was pressuring me for sex, furiously shaking his tiny fists in the air when I acquiesced only sometimes. Sometimes it was good, but more often than not I was tired, or sad, or just not into it. He was considerably smaller than me, and when night time rolled around and he felt an urge to stick some part of him into an orifice of mine, I generally felt like a downtrodden, lethargic antelope being mounted by a hyperactive, transgender possum. When I’d vocalize these kinds of sentiments, I was met with the promise of a lengthy, post-coital picking session. “Okay then,” I’d say, and before I knew it, I’d be picking up a storm in a blaze of glory. Not to be confused with a post-sex cigarette, the picking WAS the sex for me. Ice cream was the post-sex, post-picking cigarette. Even just writing about it now makes me feel like Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which is the greatest movie that’s even been made, and which no one has ever seen besides me.
As I’m never one to research anything all that extensively, but instead to skim a few things online and then pretend I’m an expert who’s simply being humble about my breadth of knowledge whenever the topic arises, when the reading rolled around, I proudly read that thing about Robin Hood, and my three evidentiary offerings that served as testimony to my outlawedness. And then, without a word, I sauntered out of the event space and into the nearest Pinkberry, where I ate a medium-sized vat of frozen yogurt covered in pomegranate seeds as I peered out the window and into the darkness, stroking my six chin hairs with a furrowed brow, pondering where the night would take me next.